Operation Crucible

by Kieran Knowles

28 July – 22 August 2015

“You could hear the planes at night sometimes, overhead. Couldn’t always see ‘em but you could hear ‘em. A hollow sound. Like you’re whizzing something around above your head. Went through me.”

The World Premiere Production

Commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Sheffield Blitz, and the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War, Operation Crucible, a first play by new playwright Kieran Knowles.

A story of four ordinary men in extraordinary times…

On the 12 December 1940, more than six hundred people lost their lives in over seven hours of continuous bombing by Germany’s Luftwaffe. Their objective? Wiping Sheffield’s world famous steel works – the heartland of Britain’s munitions manufacturing – clean off the map. The ruthless attack left Sheffield in ruins – destroying families, shattering a way of life, and changing the city forever.

At 11.44pm on the night of the raid, a single bomb reduced the Marples Hotel, which stood proudly in Fitzalan Square, from seven storeys to just fifteen feet of rubble. Only one of the ten compartments in the hotel’s cellars withstood the blast. Within it, trapped, were four men. This is their story, from beginning to end…

Previously seen as a sold out Sunday/Monday/Tuesday run at the Finborough Theatre in December 2013, Operation Crucible returns to London following an acclaimed National Tour.

About Playwright Kieran Knowles

Playwright Kieran Knowles makes his professional playwriting debut with Operation Crucible. He is a graduate of Loughborough University, LAMDA, and the Royal Court Young Writers Programme.

About Director Bryony Shanahan

Director Bryony Shanahan is co-artistic director of Snuff Box Theatre. Directing includes Boys Will Be Boys (National Theatre), Bitch Boxer (Soho Theatre, UK tour and Adelaide Fringe Festival), Quiet Violence (Camden Roundhouse), Macbeth (East 15 Acting School), Chapel Street (National Tour), You and Me (Greenwich Theatre and National Tour), The Altitude Brothers (National tour), Doctor Faustus (St Mary Magdelene Church, Paddington) and Babies (Southwark Playhouse). In 2014, Bryony won a BBC Performing Arts Award to work at the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester, where she assisted on Sarah Frankcom's Hamlet with Maxine Peake as well as developing new Snuff Box piece Weald. She returned in 2015 as Associate Director on The Skriker as part of the Manchester International Theatre Festival. Other work includes Connections Director for the National Theatre Connections Festival, teaching at East 15 Acting School, Assistant Director on Around The World In 80 Days (New Vic Theatre, Newcastle-under-Lyme, and Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester) and Associate Director on The Gruffalo’s Child (Arts Depot on North American tour). Bryony trained on The National Theatre Studio Directing Course and at East 15 Acting School.

About The Producers

Folie à deux Productions follows their critically acclaimed and OffWestEnd Award nominated productions of Summer and Smoke (Southwark Playhouse), I Am A Camera (Southwark Playhouse) and Still Life and Red Peppers (Old Red Lion Theatre) with their first production of new writing, together with new company From Ground Up Theatre Company

The Press on Director Bryony Shanahan

“Sweat-slick and tough, yet sweet and gifted with comic timing." ★★★★ The Times on Bitch Boxer

"A beautifully observed piece tightly directed by Bryony Shanahan. " ★★★★ WhatsOnStage on Chapel Street

The Press on Operation Crucible

★★★★★ London Theatre 1
★★★★ The Guardian
★★★★ The Times
★★★★ PlaysToSee
★★★★ Time Out
★★★★ The Gizzle Review
★★★★ London City Nights
★★★★ Exeunt Magazine
★★★★ Stage Review
★★★★ BritishTheatre.com

3 Off WestEnd Award nominations for
BEST DIRECTOR: Bryony Shanahan

“Kieran Knowles’ sharp script and Bryony Shanahan’s dynamic, textured production blast onto the Finborough’s intimate stage, communicating the historic tragedy of the Sheffield Blitz while also serving as a fond tribute to the spirit of the city.” Honour Bayes, Time Out

“Electrifying, personal and raw.” Tom Wicker, The Stage

“An energetic and spirited production.” Michael Spring, Bargain Theatre Land

“After premiering at this theatre in 2013, Operation Crucible has subsequently toured the nation to much acclaim, now returning to Finborough Road for a victory lap of sorts. It's well earned. Highly recommended.” London City Nights

“A remarkable play.” Anne Cox, Stage Review

“A remarkable first play...a play that vividly evokes both the terrors of wartime bombing and Sheffield’s capacity for survival.” Michael Billington, The Guardian

“As gripping as it is heart-breaking...A genuine must-see piece of theatre.” Shanna Schreuder, Indie London

“Theatre at its absolute best.” Terry Eastham, London Theatre 1

“Shot through with no-nonsense humour.” Honour Bayes, Time Out

“80 minutes of visceral drama.” Anne Cox, Stage Review

“A beautifully written play with stellar performances.” Shanna Schreuder, Indie London

“A taut, atmospheric study of masculinity, pressure and pride...A uniformly compelling ensemble, vibrant and vital as our gang of boys, turned men.” Kate Maltby, The Times

“The performances are uniformly fine.” Tim Hochstrasser, British Theatre.com

“Shanahan’s cast...give gutsy, muscular performances that mingle sweat with tears. They push themselves physically and are also psychologically compelling, with the bellowing pace giving way to moments of silence that are emotionally deafening.” Honour Bayes, Time Out

“A production that bristles with masculine energy, with high energy physical performances from an incredibly strong cast.” Ed Nights, The Gizzle Review

“Outstanding performances.” Michael Billington, The Guardian

“Their performances are moving, with just the right amount of comedic humanity - from Salvatore D'Aquila's Bob especially.” Ed Nights, The Gizzle Review

“The cast impress, especially Salvatore D’Aquilla as the serious but slow-on-the-uptake Bob.” Tom Wicker, The Stage

“Bryony Shanahan’s brooding and atmospheric production.” Anne Cox, Stage Review

The Press on Operation Crucible at the Finborough Theatre and on National Tour

★★★★ The Public Reviews
★★★★ The Good Review
★★★★ Everything Theatre

“It feels difficult to fault Operation Crucible – it hits the mark perfectly. A brilliant and gutsy début.” A Younger Theatre

“A witty, poignant and infinitely relatable new play” Everything Theatre

“A fine example of how accomplished actors with a good script and an imaginative director don’t need trimmings to make effective theatre, for very effective it is...Miniature in scale but operatic in effect, this exploits the intimacy of the Finborough to make this a very moving première.” British Theatre Guide

“Knowles’ brilliance as a writer lies in his ability to infuse this tragic narrative with nuggets of humour.” Bargain Theatreland

“Performances with such vitality, rhythm, pace and charm...directed with such sensitivity by Bryony Shanahan.” The Good Review

“Excellent performances on display and a superb script.” West County Times

28 July – 22 August 2015

Tickets and Times

Tuesday 7:30pm
Wednesday 7:30pm
Thursday 7:30pm
Friday 7:30pm
Saturday 3:00pm
Sunday 3:00pm

Approximately 1 hour 20 minutes with no interval